Follow Your Heart…But Take Your Brain With You

cbModern dating can be a little overwhelming at times. As someone who has recently stepped back onto the dating scene after a very long hiatus, it’s taken me a minute to adjust. Even before my dating break, I was never a regular dater. I’ve had literally a handful of dating relationships in the past decade. So it’s safe to say…a lot has changed. We text now instead of call. It’s more likely that you won’t even hear a guy’s voice until you have your first date than not. The days of talking on the phone til the wee hours of the morning and learning everything there is to know about one another before you ever meet face to face seem to be a thing of the past. So how can you safely navigate dating apps and online dating and meeting up with virtual strangers to ensure, as my friend Anetra would say, that you don’t end up on an episode of Dateline? (HA!)

One of the things I love so much about Bumble, the app I’m using, is that you set up your profile through your Facebook page. Which means it’s a lot harder for someone to fake their identity or  “catfish” you. It even shows you if you have mutual Facebook friends, which gives you even more of a sense of security, knowing that although the person you matched with might be a stranger, there are people you know who can vouch for him. All that said…you should still date with your head. (Oh, look…that rhymed!)

On my very first Bumble meet-up, I was still very new and green at the whole thing so I didn’t have any rules or boundaries in place for myself. (It’s so important to establish some safety guidelines that you follow every single time you meet up with someone new.) I agreed to meet this guy at a restaurant without ever talking to him on the phone first or even asking for his last name. Truth be told, I felt a little awkward asking too many personal questions because I didn’t want to come across as too “untrusting” or “stalkerish.” (Side note: It is not stalkerish to ask for a person’s last name before you meet up with them. I was being silly.) Anyway…over dinner, I did finally ask for his last name and things got a little weird. It was like he was playing games or something…being coy…but for whatever reason, he refused to tell me. He just kept saying “If you really want to find it, you will.” Here’s where I will interject a note to the gentlemen: Guys, a first date with a girl who doesn’t know you from Adam is not the time to play cute little coy games and refuse to give her even the most basic information about yourself. It’s the time to put her mind at ease so she knows you’re not hiding anything. That’s not saying you should have to hand over your social security number or credit score, but dang it: Tell her your last name. Especially if you hope to have any chance of seeing her again. (Or unless your goal is to make her think you’re a serial killer.)

That said, even though No Last Name Guy never did tell me his last name, he DID pass along a very helpful safety tip: Apparently when you enter someone’s phone number into the search bar on Facebook, it pulls up their profile. Or at least it does if they included their number in their profile. So I was able to later learn the true identity of No Last Name Guy, and as it turns out, he wasn’t a serial killer. Still, his evasiveness was off-putting and that was our first and last date. But I walked away with a new resolve to establish some rules for myself to follow moving forward with first dates:

  1. Ask for the guy’s last name! The only way it will make you come across is smart and safe.
  2. Try and have at least one phone conversation before meeting in person. Given the fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in, this might not be possible. But it definitely helps establish a sense of safety and security to chat with someone and get to know the basics about them before the first face-to-face meeting.
  3. One of my favorite new tools out there is Undolus, which I’ve told you guys about before. Undolus is a community of women helping women through an honest and straightforward review system. Basically you can log on and rate your date by answering a series of pre-determined questions…or investigate your date by reading feedback other women have left about him, good or bad. This is NOT a platform that celebrates male bashing of any kind. It’s simply another tool to help women date safely and smartly in an ever-changing dating world. (If you’d like to give Undolus a try, rating your date is free. To investigate your date, use coupon code MANDY for 20% off.)
  4. Always meet in a well-lit, public place. I like to keep my first dates simple, like coffee or ice cream. Don’t agree to go to a guy’s house or have him over to yours for the first date. It’s just not worth the risk.
  5. Finally, tell a friend where you’ll be and who you’ll be with. Having someone aware of your whereabouts is Safety 101.

I love that old adage that says: “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.” Short, sweet, simple…but true. Dating and dating apps can and should be fun. But as with anything else in life, you need to establish some healthy boundaries. That way you’re free to risk your heart without compromising your safety.

Got any safety tips to add to this list? Sound off in the comments below!

9 Responses to “ Follow Your Heart…But Take Your Brain With You ”

  1. ninjamom
    November 30, 2016

    During my online dating meet-up times, I had my friend “spy” on us pretending they’re regular coffee goers. Had some funny experiences (like my first date stood me up! LOL) but there were a couple of really good ones.

  2. Amy Bishop
    November 30, 2016

    Hi Mandy! As someone who has had countless first dates after matching online, I 100% agree with your safety tips! The thing I struggle with is a guy that doesn’t want the “hassle” of texting, talking, or even giving any basic info prior to meeting. I, like you, like to talk a little first on the phone, then meet in person. Some guys are like, never mind, if you don’t want to just meet up first, have a nice life! Wow! I guess if I get that response then I know he’s not worth it, huh? A quality guy that is genuinely interested will take the time and get to know you a little if that’s what the girl wants.

  3. November 30, 2016

    These are great reminders, Mandy. I would add that regardless of how much you think you’ve got a feel for someone that would preclude him from your typical safety measures, remember that you can’t know nearly enough about him yet to make that kind of decision. Adopt the mindset that you are the one doing the choosing, you are the one “interviewing” him to make sure he’s worthy enough of you before you jump in with two feet assuming he’s going to be different just because you get a different vibe! Yes, follow your heart, but always, always take your head with you! Love your dating updates, Mandy. Keep them coming. I know he’s out there for you! 🙂

  4. November 30, 2016

    sending a screen shot of the person’s dating profile to the same friend that you tell where you are meeting never hurts!

  5. may
    November 30, 2016

    great tips on safety… thank you..keep on sharing..

  6. kathie
    November 30, 2016

    I have tried online dating a few years ago. Met someone , had a long term relationship until I caught him cheating . Truth be told I know in my heart it wasn’t the first time but it was the last. Funny thing is I just went on the site to see what my matches might be and some of the same men from way back when are still on there. And Mr. Cheater showed up as a match… Sad that his new love probably has no idea.. He put the incorrect town on his profile which I am sure was on purpose.

  7. Meg
    December 2, 2016

    DO NOT give out your phone number until you’re sure your date is a safe person. It’s an easy internet search to find out personal info about you such as your home address( just from your phone number). I know because I had a potential date who I had one txt conversation w harass me for over 6 months just from me giving him my phone number. This means no phone conversation prior to the first meeting, sorry to the author of this article, it sounds good but actually exposes you to danger

  8. December 3, 2016

    Request a texted pic (selfie) of your date and send / forward to your best friend or family member with your dates FULL name and their phone number, where the date will be and time. Within the first hour have your best friend / family member text / call you for your reply. If you’re ever uncomfortable w/ your date, excuse yourself to the restroom, call the resturant to have an employee meet you in the restroom to pay your portion and escort you to your vehicle to leave. You owe a stranger NOTHING ! Never tell your first meeting a date your address. Call your best friend / family member to meet you at your home to see you made it home safe and not followed. Besides you can share how creepy / bad that date was.

  9. Jen
    December 4, 2016

    Always tell at least one person where you will be at the time they should expect you to be on the date and then finished. Maybe even a call or text to make sure you are ok.

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